Regal Cinemas, the second-largest movie theater chain in the U.S., announced on Monday it will close all theaters starting Tuesday due to the coronavirus pandemic. The chain has more than 7,000 screens at 542 locations in 42 states, and its decision makes it the first major theater chain to cease operations during the crisis. Meanwhile, the latest movie theater chain, AMC Theatres, said Monday it will only sell up to 50 tickets per screening.
"Any time, at any Regal, it's our goal to provide a safe and healthy environment for our employees and guests," Mooky Greidinger, the CEO of Regal parent company Cineworld, said in a statement to Deadline. "At this time, we have made the difficult decision to close our theatres. We value our movie-loving customers and have no doubt we will be serving them again as soon as possible with a full slate of Hollywood blockbusters. The Cineworld Group and Regal Theatres are strong, standing on solid ground and our continued goal is to be 'The Best Place to Watch a Movie.'"
The decision was announced just moments after President Donald Trump released new guidelines Monday, including suggesting Americans avoid gatherings of 10 or more people. Trump also said the crisis could continue to July or August, although the guidelines only cover the next 15 days.
Regal's statement did not say if employees would continue to be paid during the closures. The company said further statements will be shared on the Regal app.
Sources told The Hollywood Reporter that most cinemas are expected to close in the U.S., just as theaters in parts of Asia and Europe have done.
Before Trump's press conference, AMC announced a plan to cap admissions to 50 people per screening. The chain is the largest in the U.S., with over 11,000 screens. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Los Angeles Mayor Eri Garcetti also announced closing all cinemas in their cities.
Hollywood has been scrambling to find unique responses to the coronavirus after studios already postponed the release dates for most 2020 blockbusters. On Monday, Universal announced it would make DreamWorks Animation's Trolls World Tour available to rent on video on-demand platforms on April 10, the same day it was scheduled to hit theaters. The Hunt, The Invisible Man and Emma will also be available to rent at home for $19.99 by the end of the week, even as all three titles are still in theaters.
Disney, which delayed Mulan indefinitely, also made Frozen 2 available to stream on Disney+ months earlier than originally planned. The film was released in theaters back in November and was released on home video on Feb. 25.0comments
There are more than 181,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and over 7,000 deaths worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University research. In the U.S., there are over 4,200 cases and 74 confirmed deaths.
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